RuffTail Runners is a program built on such a simple idea, but it can deliver profound benefits for your area’s dogs, people, and community. By getting dogs out of their kennels and into the fresh air, volunteers help to keep dogs healthy, happy, and calm, which makes them more adoptable. More dogs being adopted frees up space in the shelter for other dogs in need. And dogs aren’t the only ones who need to get out and socialize. Volunteers benefit from having a reason to get out and go for a run. Plus they’ll meet other like-minded runners and start to make friendships and build a community. Not only that, but by having smiling, happy people running around town showing off pups wearing “Adopt Me!” vests, you can help raise awareness of your area shelter and all the dogs in need.

If you’re interested, we’d like to provide help and guidance. We’d love to see RuffTail Runners as the catalyst for a nationwide movement aimed to improve the lives of shelter dogs with the help of runners. By lending our name and expertise, we can lend credibility for your efforts that will make it even easier for you to succeed.

What’s Involved in Getting a Program Going


We set up training sessions 2 times a month to go through the “kennel routine”, layout of the shelter, and the dos/don’ts of RTR.  We’ve asked volunteers to give $20 to help fund things like running leashes, adopt me vests/bandannas and water bottles,  Once someone has gone through the training then they can start taking pups out on the trail.

Signing In/Out

Each RTR volunteer needs to bring their ID and phone to take a pup out on the trail.  They leave their ID with the receptionist and then sign out the dog of choice along with their phone number.  They MUST take their phone on the run/walk in case we need to get in touch with them or they need our assistance.  Once they come back to the shelter… they sign the down back in and we give them their ID back.

Color Code System

We have Austin Pets Alive volunteers who help identify dogs who would be great for RTR and then we give then a color code … Pink/Green (easy walk/runners), Orange (shy, fearful dogs), Blue/Silver (only experienced handlers).  Volunteers need to log a certain amount of hours before doing additional training for the Orange, Blue and Silver.


For more information about how to start your own RuffTail Runners program in your area, please contact your local shelter. If you have a shelter contact in your area or are a shelter representative, please contact Mary at to get your RTR chapter off the ground!